Most of you know that we’ve been in the gospel of John the last several weeks, not including last week when we took a one-week hiatus and heard from Jeff Fitzgerald on Romans 8:1. If you missed last week, I strongly encourage you to go online and listen. You will be deeply encouraged by this one verse, and Jeff’s exposition of that one verse.
But today we move into chapter 2. We move from chapter 1, and the clear declaration of who Jesus is, to chapter 2 and on, which are the proof of these declarations of who Jesus is. In chapter 1, John started by saying, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…In him was life, and he was the light of men.” That’s John himself introducing us to Jesus, and then we hear several different people declare who Jesus is! The Lamb of God! The Son of God! The King of Israel! The Son of Man!”
Clearly, from the very beginning, John’s desire in writing this record of Jesus’ life was for us to believe in Jesus. That’s his goal. So now, as we get into chapter 2 of John’s gospel, we shift from John tellingus who Jesus is, to John showingus who Jesus is. We see the very first miraculous sign: Jesus turning water into wine. So let’s start by reading it. Jim Bean is going to come and read for us the first 11 verses of John chapter 2. Jim, take it away.
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothersand his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.
Thank you, Jim. So that last verse, verse 11, is the summary of what happened: “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” He manifested his glory, his identity, his importance. That word glory means honor, splendor, the manifestation of God. In today’s culture, I would call this awesomeness. So, I want us to walk through this very first miracle in the gospel of John, and see the glory of Jesus like the disciples saw the glory of Jesus. We’ll spend most of our time walking through what happened, and then at the end we’ll talk, specifically, about what these miraculous signs reveal about Jesus. So, v. 1:
Explanation of the Text
On the third day [meaning the third day after speaking with Nathanael, if you remember back to the end of chapter 1] there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. [This was probably a close family friend, or even a relative of Jesus, that’s why his disciples also were there, and why it seems like Jesus’ mother may have been helping with the wedding in some way].
Verse 3: When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” Now, just so you know, this is not just an inconvenience, like, “Ugh, everyone’s now going to get thirsty and have nothing to drink.” This is far bigger deal than that. This was a social catastrophe to run out of wine, in particular, it was a failure of the bridegroom! Wedding celebrations back then often lasted as long as a week, and it was the bridegroom’s responsibility to pay for all of it. This was like the last way that he could show his soon-to-be bride and her family that he could take care of her. So to run out of wine was a failure; it was a big deal.
So Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine.” Now, she’s not just updating him just so he knows what’s going on. Clearly there’s more to it than that, especially with how Jesus’ responds. Verse 4: And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” Clearly, in telling him that they ran out of wine, she expects something, the question is what? What does Mary actually expect from Jesus in telling him the wine has run out? There’s disagreement about this.
Obviously, Mary knows who Jesus is, but I don’t think she’s expecting him to perform a miracle here. John says in verse 11 that this is his first miraculous sign, and the language there is pretty clear. First means his first, initial sign. So, most likely, at least in my opinion, Mary tells him because she has grown accustomed to relying on Jesus as the man of the house, the one who takes care of things.
Why would Jesus be the man of the house, and not his father Joseph? Because Mary is likely a widow at this point. We don’t know that for a fact, but Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, is nowhere to be found in the gospels after Luke chapter 2, which was the story of Jesus in the temple as a twelve-year-old. Mary is found throughout the gospels, but we don’t see Joseph after Jesus was 12. So, especially if Mary is a widow, her first-born son, Jesus, would be the man of the house. She relied on him. Don Carson makes the point, “How easy it must have been to rely on a son like him!” Right? So, she probably just naturally tells him, because he’s the one she’d tell, and she’s expecting some sort of help from him. I don’t think she expected a miracle, but maybe she expected an idea of how to help in this situation.
So Jesus’ response in verse 4seems harsh: “Woman, what does that have to do with me?” (HA!) Now, calling her “woman” doesn’t have the same negative implications as in our culture. It’s a perfectly courteous way to address someone in Jesus’ day. But, it is worth noting that he doesn’t call her mother. Mother is a completely different word, that should be expected from a son addressing his mother.
So why does Jesus address her in this way? Because while Mary is his mother, she is also his follower. In other words, in one sense she has a unique relationship with relationship that no one else has. She is his physical, earthly mother. In another sense, she is not special. She is still a sinner in need of a Savior.
This is perhaps a side-note in this text, but it’s certainly an important one: No person on the entire planet has some sort of shortcut to get to Jesus. Every person on the planet must come to him in repentance and faith. That means it does not matter in the slightest how great or how terrible the family you come from is. No matter how great or how faithful and Christian your family has been, you come to Jesus by the exact same path as any other person: faith and repentance. No matter how terrible or pagan or lost your family has been, you come to Jesus by the exact same path as any other person: faith and repentance. In the new covenant, there is no longer a blood claim, in the sense that you, because of your privileged birth or family or race, have merit or favor with God. You do not!
The only blood we can claim that gains for us any merit before God is the blood of Jesus, by which God adopts us into his family! We are NOT naturally or by birth God’s children. By birth we are, in fact, children of wrath. Ephesians 2:3-5-
“Like the rest, we were by nature children of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when were dead in trespasses—it is by grace you have been saved.”
There’s no inside track here. Only through faith in Christ will God adopt us into his family. That’s why earthly adoption, like that of the Hyatts and the McGhees can be such a vivid picture of God’s love for us.
So, that’s why Jesus said to her, “Woman [woman, who has no special spiritual favor with me], what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” Now, “hour” in John always refers to Christ’s death and resurrection. I counted 6 or 7 other times in John when Jesus uses this word, and all of them refer to his death and resurrection. So, we know what he’s referring to here, the question is, Why does he bring this up in a rebuke of his mother, especially when he’s going to end up doing something about the wine anyway? His response here would have easily made sense to us if he then did nothing about the wine, right? “Woman, what does that have to do with me? My hour has not yet come. It’s not time for me to reveal my identity, my glory.” That makes sense as a reason to do nothing about the wine.
But, he does something about the wine, doesn’t he? So why does he say, “My hour has not yet come,” but then perform a miraculous sign, and address her concern anyway? I think there are two reasons, and they overlap:
1.In the very next chapter, Jesus is identified as the messianic bridegroom. I’m not going to take you there, because we’ll get there in a few weeks, but John 3:27-30 basically shows Jesus to be the perfect bridegroom, perhaps in contrast to this bridegroom who is messing things up! So, maybe Jesus’ words here to Mary are like, “My hour has not yet come to reveal myself as the perfect messianic bridegroom, but, sure, I’ll help with the wine. My hour has not yet come to fill this guy’s shoes on a way bigger scale, but I’ll help with the wine.” That could be it. Secondly:
Again, we’re answering the question, why does he say, “My hour has not yet come,” and then deal with the wine problem anyway?
2.Oftentimes Jesus will take things that people say, and read symbolism into their words, symbolism they didn’t even intend. In other words, Mary is just saying they need more wine, can we help? Jesus thinks of the Old Testament that characterized the time of the Messiah as the hour of great wine. Hosea, Amos, and even Jeremiah talk about the time of the Messiah as a time of great celebration, a time of great wine. So, while Mary’s just talking about this earthly celebration, Jesus is talking about the real celebration to come, the hour of his death and resurrection when he would accomplish the salvation of mankind. It could be one of those options, it could be both! Either way, Jesus is speaking of the hour of his death and resurrection.
So, in the rest of this narrative, these people at the wedding likely drank the best wine ever created. Jesus, the creator of grapes, and now the creator of wine from the grapes he created. Probably the best wine ever. But, guess what? This wine was really just a foretaste of the gospel. We see the gospel here in this story. Let me read verses 4-10 again:
And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” [Clearly, at this point, she seems to know he’s going to do something].
Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”
So, we’ve seen Jesus turn water into wine. He literally changed one substance into another, supernaturally! Then, verse 11: “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.”
Jesus’ disciples saw this happen, they saw and understood the glory and weight of who he was, and they believed. In Jesus’ miraculous works, he reveals his glory. How so? How do we see the glory of Jesus in His miraculous works? These are in your notes.
The Glory of Jesus in His Miraculous Works
- Jesus performed miracles to reveal His power.
He did something that no one else on earth could do. He did something that was impossible. If you’ve ever watched the History Channel talk about Jesus, I find it at times hilarious that they try and find natural explanations for the phenomena reported in the Bible. Because they know the Bible to be a historical document, at least many of them do, and so they’ll do everything they can to try and explain how these things happened naturally. Can I just say this: Jesus is not bound by nature! He is not! His power goes beyond that! How? That’s the next one:
- Jesus performed miracles to reveal his identity.
This makes perfect sense. With Jesus doing things that no one on earth could do, and no one had ever been able to do, he points us to his identity. How is he able to do this? How does he have this power? Because he is God.
In John 10:30, Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” He’s straight-up claiming to be God. And so, what happens? The Jews pick up stones to stone Jesus, because he’s making some pretty big claims about his identity. Then, listen to what he says in verses 37-39: “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
Jesus performed miracles to reveal his identity, to validate his claims of being one with the Father! Of being God! To put to rest any question at all. Jesus was and is God. With his identity, comes to our third answer to this question, why did Jesus perform miracles, including this one, specifically.
- Jesus performed miracles to point people to the ultimate miracle: salvation in Christ.
Why was it so important for Jesus to show his power, and reveal his identity? Why was it so important that he validate his identity as the Christ, and to validate his message? Why? Because the goal of Jesus’ earthly ministry was that people would see his glory and believe in Him for salvation.
He starts performing these awesome miracles, right? But he doesn’t reveal too much about his ultimate goal, in the beginning. His hour had not yet come! In Mark chapter 1, he even tells the man that he healed of leprosy not to tell anyone about it! Why? Well, because his time had not yet come, but also because there was something greater than these earthly miracles coming, wasn’t there? In some instances, it seems as if he doesn’t want the masses to be too focused on the earthly miracles and miss the much greater spiritual miracle to come!
The heart of the Christ’s message was that of salvation in him alone: “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no comes to the Father but by me.” These earthly miracles were just tiny foretastes of the miracle of the gospel: salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, his death and resurrection. Jesus our Substitute! These miracles were miraculous! And miracles today are miraculous. Each of these points could also be changed to present-tense: Jesus “performs” miracles. But all these earthly miracles, past and present, point to THE ultimate miracle.
This miracle of turning water into wine: Think about it. Why fill purification jars? In the context of a wedding, these jars would be used to clean dishes, and also maybe for washing your hands. So why use those? And why, for that matter, turn so much water into wine? 6 jars of 20 to 30 gallons, filled to the brim! Well over 120 gallons of wine! Why the purificationjars, those particular containers? Why so muchwine? And why the bestwine? Why couldn’t it just be normal wine?
I don’t want to read into the text something that’s not there, but I cannot help but see intentionality here. John’s being detailed about this on purpose. I mean, he says so little about the actual miracle of turning water into wine—Did you catch that? He doesn’t actually record it happening. We know of it only second-hand, only after-the-fact, verse 9: “When the master of the feast tasted the water become wine.” It’s ironic he focuses so little on the transformation of the water, and yet gives details about the containers being purification jars (seems like a random detail), and about the excessive amountof wine (we know the number of jars and how big the jars were), and the excessive qualityof the wine (why give that detail? And why can’t it be normal wine?). Why all these details?
Because the water that they fill to the brim represents the old way of Jewish law and custom, and Jesus is coming to replace it with something far, far greater. This miracle is a sign of Jesus’ identity, but it’s also a symbol of Jesus is going to do, when his hour does in fact come.
We can’t cleanse ourselves, no matter how hard we try, no matter how clean the water is, no matter the quality of our containers. But Christ came with something far greater. He has lavished on us his love, excessive love poured out for all of mankind in Christ. It’s excessive in quantity, open to the whole world. And it’s excessive in quality, because it makes us completely righteous.
Christ himself is the ultimate bridegroom making every possible provision for his bride, the church. You and me. We need nothing else, and this bridegroom will never fail us. He’ll never run out of wine. It’s not available to a limited number, “whoever believes in him will not perish.” Not, “the first 1000, that’s all Jesus can handle.”
He will never run out of wine; he will never run out of provision for those who believe in Him. I don’t know that every miracle Jesus performed had as much symbolism as this one, but certainly every miracle points to the ultimate miracle. The love of God in Christ open to the entire world, and the call we all have to believe in Him alone.
Don’t you think it’s funny that these five disciples who were with him were already following him, and some of them were even disciples of John the Baptist. They knew who Jesus was, and yet, apparently, they had not yet truly believed. They were impressed, which is why they followed after him, but they had not trusted in Him, truly. They had not understood his glory, the weight of who he was.
Think about how many of the masses of people that we see in the NT were amazed at what Jesus was doing, and yet did not truly repent and believe in him? Is that possible today? To be impressed with Jesus, like we’re impressed Mark Zuckerberg and his accomplishments, and yet not believein him, put our trust in him?
I wonder if any of us in this room are here because we’re impressedwith Jesus—the influence he’s had on history, literally THE most influential person who ever lived. Maybe you’re impressed with his kindness and love toward the downtrodden and the underprivileged. But, do we see his glory? Do we see who he is? Has it clicked, like it did with the disciples here in verse 11, that we’re not talking about a great man among men. We’re talking about the Christ. Do you see his significance? His power, his divinity, and his work on our behalf. Because if you truly understand the weight of his glory, believing and trusting in him alone is almost a natural response.
I remember looking at Jesus every week growing up, and understanding a lot about him, and even seeing and understanding the miraculous signs that Jesus performed! I believed that they happened. I did. I knew them to be true! I looked at Jesus and understood many things about him. And I was even impressed! I could raise my hands and praise him because I thought he was impressive. But I did not look to Him as one would look to His Savior. His Substitute. His King. Listen: behold the Lamb of God, the Christ, the Son of God, who takes away the sin of the world, who replaces the old Jewish law and custom with new wine that is exceedingly more than enough, and exceedingly better—The new covenant: God’s grace through faith in Christ.